As much of my work and life moved online, I kept thinking of the phrase “all screens exist in a space.” It’s a sort of reminder: the disembodiment I experience can be inverted. The screen can bring video into my kitchen, placing a field of sheep next to the rising dough. All screens (computer, phone, tablet) can create a continuous collage in real space, real time.
Before writing ripple, I was thinking now, too, of how I share and move objects — how any physical object passed from one person to another felt risky, potentially hazardous. I’d begun to think of the internet as the cleanest way to hand something off. Instructions, a score of sorts, can be carried through the high-speed fiber-optic cables. And this wiry, humming, overheating network can act out, via a physical rearrangement of light, what I wanted to share.
In ripple, I cobbled together with screenshots, video, captions, trying to disrupt the arbitrary system of windows and tabs. You scroll and search for the essay’s narrative, jumping from Google Docs to a pixelated photo of a screenshot of a phone with the delivery app GoPuff open. As I write about multi-spatial installation, sheep roam around in the background video. You see the dirty carpet of my studio, the tabs I had open (Vanity Fair, The NYTimes, Autostraddle) when I froze parts of my screen. The scale is purposefully off. The text is backwards, sometimes. You see the dust and dirt and oil and grime in pictures of my computer screen underneath your own dirty digital window. When you open the essay, my hope is that you can’t tell where my essay ends and your desktop begins.
Instead of you falling into the light’s movement and forgetting the space around you, I want you to back away from the screen. I want you to see the images, text, as something in real space, in real time, with you — a performance in the room you’re in. All screens exist in space. Everything is physical where you are.
Major influences on this work include Hito Steyerl’s essay “In Defense of the Poor Image,” Legacy Russel’s Glitch Feminism, and Alyssa Moore’s screenshot poems (which include “When”/“i’m hysterical”/“i can’t stop thinking about”/“representations”).
I would like to thank Nicholas Regiacorte for introducing me to George Oppen’s “Image of the Engine” and Joyce Tsai for her guidance on this project. I would also like to thank everyone who participated in here and at the same time — without your generosity, none of this work is possible.
[Editor's note: Kelly Clare's ripple was made in conversation with her 2021 exhibition here and at the same time]